Battaglin wins Giro thriller, Wiggins loses time
(AFP) – Enrico Battaglin claimed his maiden Giro d’Italia stage on Tuesday with fellow Italian Luca Paolini retaining the leader’s pink jersey and race favourite Bradley Wiggins losing time after an epic 246km of racing from Policastro to Serra San Bruno.
Battaglin, who rides for the Bardiani team, surged out of a small group of survivors from the day’s second and last climb to sprint to a well-earned victory after nearly 6hr 15min of racing to the southernmost point of the Giro’s 96th edition.
“I knew this stage could suit me, especially with the rain which put the brakes on some people’s ambitions,” said Battaglin.
“I’d saved some energy whenever I could earlier and probably attacked a little from the line but I held on for the win.”
Minutes earlier, Danilo Di Luca, the Giro winner in 2007, belied his 37 years to launch an audacious attack towards the end of the final climb and race into the lead with young Colombian Robinson Chalapud on his wheel.
The pair came over the summit with barely 20secs on the main peloton but, despite Di Luca’s efforts on the rain-hit finale, they were agonisingly caught inside the final kilometre.
Katusha veteran Paolini, who took the race lead with victory on stage three on Monday, was just behind and crossed the finish line in the company of overall victory hopefuls Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans and Ryder Hesjedal.
“I’m glad to still have the pink jersey but it was a tough day of racing,” said Paolini.
However the race jury said after the stage that Wiggins had not been hindered by the crash, thus attributing him with his actual finishing time.
“The crash was inside three kilometres to go so hopefully they will recognise that,” Sky’s sports director Marcus Ljungvist told teamsky.com.
“It’s one of those things that happens in bike racing. It’s certainly not the end of the world.”
Wiggins began the race’s second-longest stage in second place overall at 17sec.
But despite a dominant display of riding by his Sky team on the 12.8km climb to the Croce Ferrata summit and, notably, the treacherous 7km descent to the finish, he lost time to his rivals, which could prove costly.
Former Tour of Spain winner Nibali (Astana) turned his 14sec overnight deficit to Wiggins into a 3sec lead, while both Hesjedal and, notably, Evans, also claimed back lost time.
“Everything was good today and that’s a good indicator,” said Evans, who had a strong finish also on Monday, a day after losing time in the team time-trial.
“Most importantly, I got through the stage without any trouble or time loss.”
Paolini now leads another Team Sky rider, Colombian Rigoberto Uran, by 17sec with Nibali at 31sec, Hesjedal and Wiggins fifth and sixth respectively at 34sec and Evans sitting 10th at 42sec.
Wednesday’s fifth stage is held over 205 km from Cosenza to Matera and, although mainly flat, it ends on an uphill which will suit the ‘punchers’ and other specialist climbers of the peloton.
Enrico Battaglin, a new star
Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) is considered one of the best talents in Italian cycling in the last 20 years, and he’s just now starting to show it in the pro ranks.
“Ahead of this year’s Giro d’Italia, I really didn’t know how I’d perform against these guys,” Battaglin said on Italian TV after the race.
“It’s great to be here at this Giro. With our second division team, where we are all Italians, we don’t get to race every big race.”
The 23-year-old comes from the same small town, Marostica near Treviso, as 1981 Giro winner Giovanni Battaglin, but the two are not related.
Italy without national DS
The Italian team is looking for a new sports director after Max Sciandri quit on Monday.
“It was a dream. I touched it and I’ll let it go and stay with BMC Racing,” Sciandri told Cycling Weekly. “We were moving forward, but there was no starting point.”
Sciandri explained that he disagreed with Bettini, who took over in 2010 when Franco Ballerini died. Bettini is still expected to transition into a general technical manager role and to oversee the entire programme. Now, however, he must find a new person to direct the road team
Read more on CyclingWeekly.
Boonen delays return
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) must delay his return to racing, cancelling the Tour of California from his schedule. The Belgian was due to return this month after crashing and fracturing his rib in the Tour of Flanders.
“He hasn’t recovered enough,” team boss, Patrick Lefevere told Sporza TV. “He continues to suffer. His knee is troubling him, the one he had surgery on, and so too is his thigh and back. He’s got to deal with those things before racing.”
Boonen had kicked around the idea of helping Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France, but the idea now appears unlikely.
Giro going international, taking on Tour
The Giro d’Italia is growing and growing, approaching the same importance that the Tour de France enjoys, according to VeloNews
“Italian three-week race is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance,” wrote VeloNews. “Organiser RCS Sport has implemented a concerted effort to brush the dust off its premier bike race property.”
The article explains the changes that began over 10 years ago by former race director, Angelo Zomegnan. It points to the organiser’s ability to lure top names like Lance Armstrong and Brad Wiggins in the last few years and its strong social media presence.
Read more on Velonews.
Obscure prizes of the Giro d’Italia
As always, the Inner Ring explores the less known parts of the sport of cycling and has a good blog post about the obscure prizes given away at the end of every Giro stage. If you want to understand the classifications such as Superteam, Premio della Fuga (Breakaway Prize), Traguardo Volanti (Flying Sprint), Azzurri d’Italia (Blues of Italy), Fuga (Fairplay Prize), and many more, read all about it on the Inrng.
The Secret Pro
In case you missed the latest column by The Secret Pro, have a read here.
Bike helmets – an emergency doctor’s perspective
For those working on the frontline of trauma care, the findings of a report into the protective effects of helmets in cyclists and motorcyclists published in the Medical Journal of Australia last week come as no surprise. Emergency Physician Michael Dinh takes a look at this study for The Conversation and puts it into perspective.
Read the full article here.